Image from Jim's Alternative Tours website.
Image from Jim's Alternative Tours website. Reproduced with permission.

All's now forgiven for 'Lismore is crap' slur

WHEN a Byron Bay tour bus driver told his passengers that 'Lismore's crap' he never imagined it would lead to his boss getting on his knees to beg forgiveness.

In the recently-published travel book Strange Country, by Mark Dapin, South African bus driver for Jim's Alternative Tours, Ivan Stander, reportedly told his passengers that if you miss Lismore's roundabouts, 'you have missed everything Lismore has to offer'. He's also quoted as having said 'as you can imagine ... there's no reason to stay here'.

Jim's Alternative Tours owner Jim Merritt yesterday told The Northern Star he was sorry about his driver's comments.

“I want to apologise to Lismore - I feel my driver's comments were ungracious and inappropriate,” he said.

The bus tour, which departs Byron Bay most days, takes thousands of travellers from around the world to Nimbin, via Lismore.

“I have chastised my driver and I have re-briefed him on how to conduct the tour and to only focus on the positive,” Mr Merritt said. “I do think he was joking though and the comments were meant in a light-hearted way.”

Mr Merritt yesterday knelt as he offered economic development and tourism manager Ruth Povall his apologies for the driver's slur. He told staff at the Lismore Visitor Centre, where he met with Ms Povall, he would make up for the insult by providing free bus trips from Byron Bay to Lismore for the annual Lantern Parade.

“I want to turn this whole thing into a positive,” he said. “I want to make amends by offering free transport to assist in the promotion of Lismore as a tourist destination.”

Ms Povall said she and the visitor centre accepted Mr Merritt's apology and were pleased he wanted to make amends.

She said she felt the driver's comments would have no impact on Lismore's tourism industry and that Mr Merritt's offer was an opportunity to forge new partnerships within the region.



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